Sufjan Stevens

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Essential Albums

  • Carrie & Lowell
  • Illinois

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Live Albums

About Sufjan Stevens

An explorer as much as an artist, Sufjan Stevens has created a body of work that includes gentle folk songs, glistening symphonies, reimagined Christmas carols, and fluttering electronics. Despite the diversity, there are universalities in his songs: The delicate heartbreaker “Mysteries of Love,” the martial “Decatur,” and the solemn “Fourth of July” somehow all feel intimate, expansive, graceful, and giddy. Born in Detroit in 1975 and raised in Michigan, Stevens released his stylistically omnivorous debut, A Sun Came, in 1999. He then moved to New York to get a master’s degree in writing, honing the storytelling that would weave into the layered orchestration of 2003’s acclaimed Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State. That album was the gentle setup in a joke he made about creating an album for each of the 50 states; 2005's baroque pop-esque Illinois was the series' second and final installment. In the years to follow, Stevens contributed to the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack, collaborated with Son Lux and The National, produced a live show consisting of a film he wrote and directed, and whose score was performed by an orchestra (2007's The BQE), and put out more albums including 2015's Carrie & Lowell, which showed a likewise deep connection between places on maps and tender spots in his memory and heart. He joined his stepfather, Lowell Brams, on the 2020 instrumental Aporia, and dedicated 2023’s emotionally affecting Javelin to the memory of his partner, who died that year.

Detroit, MI, United States
July 1, 1975

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